If you’ve ever had the opportunity to walk down the bustling streets of France or New York City, chances are you would encounter bakeries, almost one on every street, featuring crusty loaves of fresh baked breads.
The good news is you don’t have to go that far anymore if you live in East Sacramento. Just head to the corner of 51st Street and Folsom Boulevard to the new Les Baux bakery and bistro.
Why East Sac?
Co-owned by Trong Nguyen and his wife, who also founded La Bou Bakery & Cafe, Nguyen says the vision for Les Baux came from their travels to Europe. “We thought maybe (with) our experience, knowledge, resources and skills, (we could) put together a cool neighborhood bakery cafe bistro – the kind of place people would come and hang out and have a good time, like the places we would love to (go) … in other parts of the world,” he explains.
For this concept, Nguyen says they decided on East Sacramento because they loved the neighborhood. “It’s a really wonderful neighborhood on both sides of Folsom Boulevard, and very accessible to bicycles and foot traffic, and near the parks,” he says.
Nguyen appreciates the support he has received from the East Sacramento community since Les Baux first opened its doors about six months ago, with many customers already becoming repeat customers and others returning with their friends. “The people in East Sac are just incredible,” he adds.
One fan of Les Baux is East Sacramento resident Ed Christenson, who has become a frequent customer for the store’s bread and pastries. He says the bread is a very good quality and with a good flavor. He says it’s nice to “have a good bread store nearby” and feels Les Baux is a “nice addition” to East Sacramento.
And South East Sacramento residents Rosemarie Bertacchi and M. Teresa Lew say they have become consistent customers of Les Baux, and feel the restaurant is unique and neighborly. “(It) has the ability to be casual, as well as beginning to be in the class of epicurean,” Lew adds.
For the bakery part of Les Baux, Nguyen says they wanted to make a traditional bakery that you would find in France, New York and San Francisco.
The star attraction of the bakery is the bread. Les Baux offers a variety of breads, from baguettes to pain au levain (country white) to a multigrain bread. The bakery also offers types not normally seen, including the French rye and épi type baguette – rather than a straight loaf, the baguette has angled sections making it easy to break pieces off for eating.
According to Nguyen, all the breads are made each day from scratch from a natural ferment. The starter for the dough is made the day before baking. Each day at midnight, staff members come in to make the dough, which Nguyen says takes a few hours.
Then the bread is baked. Nguyen says these types of breads require a traditional deck oven, which requires a certain set of skills to operate as the dough is dropped directly on to the stone hearth. “It makes the best bread – it has a really good steaming system and even heat,” he explains. “That’s the kind of setting for making wonderful bread.” To help ensure his bread would be great, Nguyen even brought in bakers from Europe and New York to teach him how to make this type of bread.
In addition to the bread, the bakery at Les Baux features a variety of pastries, including croissants, scones, pain au chocolat, and different types of cookies.
For the bistro, Nguyen says they wanted to create a place that was more of a neighborhood hangout than a restaurant. “A French diner where people would come to eat a few times a week,” he explains.
To accomplish this, Nguyen says they focused on making an interesting and diverse – yet affordable – menu using classic French bistro dishes. “I want everything to be affordable prices, the kind of thing a neighbor could walk over and have dinner – they don’t have to wait for their anniversary or birthday to come here,” he adds.
On the breakfast menu, dishes include the “3 Day” French Toast, so named, Nguyen says, because the French toast takes three days to create – two days to make the bread, and one day for it to naturally air dry, resulting, in what he calls a very light French toast. Other items on the breakfast menu include a breakfast focaccia and a continental breakfast.
For lunch and dinner – Les Baux just began offering dinner Tuesday through Saturday – Steak Frite (steak and French fries) Nguyen says is a very popular and traditional French bistro staple. Nguyen says other well-known French bistro dishes on their menu include Moules Frites (mussels and French fries) and raw oysters on the half shell, as well as three different types of tarts.
Patrons can also enjoy a glass of wine with their meal. Nguyen says they have developed what they call the “Left Side Only Wine List,” where every bottle on the menu is $25 and every glass is $6, so there is no right side of the menu with prices listed. “People can concentrate on just the wine that they like,” he adds.
Now with six months under their belt, Nguyen says that so far he is very pleased with the outcome of Les Baux. He says although people in this area do not buy as much bread as Europeans or those on the East Coast do, “little by little the people are beginning to come in and buy bread.”
“For those living in East Sac, the fact that they have a real artisan bread bakery in their neighborhood is a luxury because most America does not have this – it’s rare to have such an entity in your neighborhood,” he says. “You can walk over or ride your bike over and grab a loaf of bread for dinner.”
And he’s happy with the feedback he’s been receiving from community members that have found Les Baux and are very pleased to have done so. “Those kinds of encounters really motivate us and keep us going,” he adds.
5090 Folsom Blvd.